A Michigan judge has sparked backlash after she sentenced a 15-year-old black teenager to a juvenile detention facility for a probation violation for not completing online assignments as her school shifted to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, as per reports.
The girl identified as Grace, has ADHD and had struggled to adjust and keep up with her schoolwork after following the beginning of online learning in April. Disruptions to students’ education caused by school closures across the US has been widely reported, especially as access to high-speed Internet at home is not evenly distributed throughout the country.
Judge Mary Ellen Brennan, who presides over the Oakland County Family Court Division, ruled in May that Grace had broken the terms of her probation. She has also been charged of larceny after she was caught stealing another student’s cellphone at school by not doing her homework.
Brennan, who is white, ordered that Grace be sent to the county’s juvenile detention center, Children’s Village. The child is required to remain at the detention center until a hearing to review the case set for Sept. 8.
While sentencing Grace, Brennan told, “I told her she was on thin ice and I told her that I was going to hold her to the letter, to the order, of the probation,” and called her as a “threat to the community.”
Her ruling came despite an executive order issued in March from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which called for the elimination of juvenile detention to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus unless an individual was a “substantial and immediate safety risk to others.”
Grace’s mother, identified as Charisse, said her visits with Grace since her incarceration have been limited and she described that her daughter’s ankles were shackled and wrists bound in handcuffs at the detention facility. She said, “For me and our culture, that for me was the knife stuck in my stomach and turning. That is our history, being shackled. And she didn’t deserve that.”
During the hearing to decide whether she violated her probation, Grace acknowledged that attending school online was difficult, but said it was something she could work toward improving. “I just needed time to adjust to the schedule that my mom had prepared for me,” she explained.
Source: PropublicaPosted in International, News